Patrick Hoyos: In tourism, Barbados is left at the starting gate for first half of 2014

Beach chairs empty

Patrick Hoyos

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Saturday August 30, 2014 – New tourism long stay arrivals numbers from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation show big percentage gains for the Dominican Republic, Cuba, St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Maarten for the first six months of 2014.

Barbados recorded a flat arrivals performance for the period, with 264,000 arrivals erasing the losses of the previous year but not providing any increase. It was a different story for some of our neighbors, with St. Lucia enjoying a 6% increase to reach 176,000 arrivals, Grenada an 18.6% rise to just over 65,000 arrivals, and St. Maarten up by close to 9% with 245,000 arrivals.

Barbados, which started the year well with a 3.8% increase in long stay arrivals in January, fell back in February with a decline of 1.5% and in March of 5.6%.

St. Vincent & the Grenadines saw a drop in long stay arrivals by almost one percent, reporting a figure of just over 30,000 for arrivals between January and May.

In the northern Caribbean, Jamaica saw its arrivals increase by 1.4% to nearly 1.1 million, while Cuba also had an increase, of almost 4 percent, translating into close to 1.7 million long stay arrivals. The Cayman Islands also enjoyed a surge of arrivals, growing by over 9% to 210,500.

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Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic saw its long stay arrivals increase by 8.5% to reach almost 2.7 million for the six-month period.

Also noteworthy were the rises in arrivals recorded by Antigua & Barbuda, up nearly 7% to just over 138,000; and Aruba, up just over 5% to almost 490,000, as well as Belize, up nearly 12% to 186,000.

Barbados, which started the year well with a 3.8% increase in long stay arrivals in January, fell back in February with a decline of 1.5% and in March of 5.6%. It then enjoyed an increase in April of just over two percent and in May and June of just over one percent. The result was an arrivals figure for the first six months that was the same as for the same period last year.

One of the country’s biggest worries seems to be the decline in long stay arrivals from North America, as the United States’ arrivals figure fell by 7.2%, and Canada’s by 8.2 percent for the period. An increase of close to 10% from Europe was not enough to compensate for these major market downturns.

The only other country close to Barbados in terms of the percentage lost in long stay arrivals from the US was St. Kitts & Nevis, with a 6.2% drop. Jamaica experienced a drop of just under one percent, while St. Lucia was up 13.2% and Grenada by 20% in terms of long stay arrivals from the US.

All other Caribbean destinations saw an increase in arrivals from Canada except for Aruba, Antigua & Barbuda, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines, all three of which saw Canadian visitor arrivals for the period fall by around 5%. St. Lucia saw its Canadian numbers increase by over 9% and Jamaica saw its figure go up by 4%.

Pat-Hoyos-150The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Pat Hoyos. This article first appeared in the Broad Street Journal. Pat Hoyos is a business writer and publisher of the Broad Street Journal.